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US: UPDATED - Laser aimed at NFL team quarterback, holder

Someone in the stands of an American football game aimed a laser pointer at players on October 5 2014.

The game was between the Buffalo Bills (visitors) and the Detroit Lions (home team). The laser pointer was aimed at Bills holder Colton Schmidt just before an unsuccessful 50-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter. Kicker Dan Carpenter was upset after the kick, talking to a referee until officials told him to return to the sideline. WIVB TV reported that the referee could be seen mouthing the words “No, I didn’t see it” to Carpenter.

In a post-game press conference, Bills coach Doug Marrone said the issue was resolved before the end of the game. He characterized the laser incident as less of a distraction and more of a motivator for Carpenter, who won the game with a successful 58-yard field goal with four seconds left to play.
Also after the game, Carpenter declined to say if the laser pointer affected Schmidt’s hold on the third-quarter try. Schmidt said “Definitely not something you know, you prepare for. The refs are part of the game and the fans are part of the game, but to get something else thrown into that mix, it’s a lot tougher, especially on the road.”

During the fourth quarter of the game, Bills quarterback Kyle Orton also said he had a laser pointer aimed at him: “Early on I felt it a couple of times right after I got the ball, so I communicated with the refs and with coach Marrone and let him handle that.”

A six-second Vine video shows a green laser pointer going across Orton’s face, directly over his right eye:

Pic 2014-10-09 at 11.47.44 PM
Click for the animated Vine video, from Prescott Rossi

Kyle Orton Bills laser pointer referee
Just after throwing an incomplete pass, Buffalo Bills QB Kyle Orton turns to an official and tells him a laser had been aimed at his eyes.

The Bills filed a complaint with National Football League security officials. An NFL spokesperson said the league had no specific information because they had not yet heard from their Detroit security representative.

The Detroit Lions released a statement saying "We are aware of the reports from today's game involving the use of a laser, and we have been in contact with NFL security regarding this issue. Lasers are a prohibited item at Ford Field. While Ford Field security was unable to identify anyone using a laser at today's game, any future occurrence will be dealt with accordingly."

The NFL, in a separate statement, said “If the person is identified, they will be reported to law enforcement.”

A Lions fan on Twitter using the handle @MarkoBeslach tweeted at 10:53 am -- hours before the game -- “You see a green light on any of the bills players just laugh cause it's me”. After the game, he posted “Got Kyle Orton complained to the ref when I got him with the laser”. The Twitter account was later taken down.

Marko Beslach Lions Bill laser Kyle Orton
The first tweet was sent 19 hours before this screenshot was taken -- before the game -- and the second was taken 13 hours later -- after the game.

The day after the game, a Facebook page called “NFL Ban Marko Beslach” was started. It contains a screenshot of the tweets, and a picture of a youth who is claimed to be Beslach.

Jamie Edmonds from Detroit’s WDIV-TV reported, “Now, there is a person in Metro Detroit named Marko Beslach who I found, I contacted; that person didn’t contact me back. But if he is the guy, and it was easy enough for me to get in contact with him, you would think the NFL and the police would get in contact with him and see what they could do about this. Maybe no more NFL games for him in general, let alone at [Detroit’s] Ford Field.”

From ESPN here and here, FOX Sports, Syracuse.com, BuffaloBills.com, the Detroit Free Press, and BuffaloRumblings.com. Buffalo TV station WIBV.com has a video showing the laser very briefly on Schmidt’s knee, as well as Orton’s incomplete pass and subsequent complaint to the referee. Detroit station WDIV also has a video report, focusing more on finding the perpetrator.

UPDATED - October 8 2014: A “leading ophthalmologist and retinal specialist” told USA Today on October 7 that laser pointers “are weapons; powerful weapons that can cause very serious damage and blindness. They are much more powerful than anyone appreciates.” He is seeking to make intentional shining a felony. More on the USA Today story and ophthalmologist Robert Josephberg is here.

UPDATED - October 9 2014:
The Detroit Lions announced they located the perpetrator, who was reported by ESPN to be “Mark Beslach.” The fan will be banned indefinitely from future games and faces a disorderly conduct charge (a misdemeanor). In addition, the person who provided tickets will have his remaining five 2014 season tickets revoked. More at this LaserPointerSafety.com story.

UPDATED - October 10 2014:
News source MLive.com reported that the father of the laser-wielding youth has asked for police protection due to harassment from Buffalo Bills fans. Details are in this LaserPointerSafety.com story.

UPDATED - June 29 2015: Marko Beslach in November 2014 pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct. He was fined $235, had to do 80 hours of community service, and was given a one-year suspended sentence. He will have his case reviewed November 23 2015. From the Detroit Free Press.